Immigration and identity discussed at roundtable

Pablo Vila of Temple University, Alexie Tcheuyap of The University of Calgary and Ban Wang of Rutgers University presented ideas on immigration and the shifting of identities among immigrants on Thursday night at a roundtable discussion on localities and identities in the Science Complex.

During the discussion, Vila, assistant professor of sociology at Temple University, presented the film, “Ethnographic Accounts of Hybrids and Border Crossers in Border Studies.”

Vila explained how nationalism divides Mexican nationalists from Mexican-Americans and how regionalism helps Mexicans establish their identities.

Alexie Tcheuyap of The University of Calgary spoke on immigration and shifting identities in African cinema.

During the discussion, Tcheuyap explained that many misconceptions exist about African culture within African cinema, partly because of state-controlled productions. However, new and creative expressions of African culture, language and society are now emerging.

Tcheuyap presented his perspective on African immigration and its effects on the identity of immigrants, explaining that identity is often lost or altered among immigrants.

“The universal longing for identity is a very interesting issue,” Emily Chornomaz, sophomore international studies major, said.

Wang, Rutgers University professor of Asian language and cultures and author explained how globalization, to some degree, has negatively affected the Chinese culture and society as a whole.

Wang said that China’s strong history and sense of identity has often been taken for granted in its industrializing society.

Many Chinese mourn the loss of their rich, historic culture.

Hana Muzika Kahn, instructor of world languages at the College, particularly enjoyed Vila’s film. “I found the idea of the universal yearning for identity within the homeland to be very interesting,” she said.

Vila, Tcheuyap and Wang all had different viewpoints on this issue, but all agreed that immigrants acquire identity with a strong understanding for the history and culture of their homeland.